Monday, June 17, 2013

"Sexual corruption"

Sometimes just the right word is needed to gain clear understanding, to actually "get it." When that right word is introduced, it becomes an a-ha moment.

Except in the most extreme cases, I was often slow, dense, dimwitted in taking seriously the notion of "sexual harassment." Harassment is something a youngster feels when told to do Kumon, or a teenager when told to get off the phone and take out the trash, or a young spouse when told by the other spouse that they should not spend so much time playing softball. But adults who were created as sexual creatures saying what they think, being what they are? Well, I "sorta got it" (sorta), but it seemed to me that the complaining "victim" could have/should have stood on principle and personal choice and resisted.

Leave it to Rwanda to edify me and draw me from my dark ignorance,... Rwanda, a country of empowered women, where 56% of Parliament are women, as are many Members of Cabinet, including the "Minister of Gender." Rwanda, an African nation with "Zero tolerance of corruption," and it was the elaboration and application of this "Zero tolerance of corruption" that brought me new understanding.

I recently read an article in a Rwandan newspaper explaining that "sexual corruption is a crime in Rwanda." Corruption? We hate corruption and will NOT tolerate it! "Sexual corruption?" What's that?

Like it or not, sex is a negotiation (unless it is actually rape, in which case the perpetrator dispenses with the negotiation). Even in marriage. But when one party wields an unfair power advantage over the other, it is no longer a real negotiation but instead oppressive, exploitative, and "corrupt,"... and criminal. Realistically, there may be no "personal choice." The notion of the movie producer's "casting couch" might have formerly given rise to some ignorant fascination or perverse amusement, but the exploitation of a young Rwandan seeking a job (where so few exist) simply enrages. And it can get even worse: Imagine the young mother desperate for alms so she can feed her baby. Which term gets the job done: "sexual harassment" or "sexual corruption"?

I encourage those in the West who care about this subject to consider a change of terminology so that they and their cause might be better understood. The newspaper article opined that: "If all institutions - from the Police, Parliament, legal and religious institutions, civil society and the private sector, and individuals - collaborate in the efforts to tackle sexual corruption, it will be stopped." [Emphasis added.]